Friday, August 27, 2010

Paranormal Research in Pennsylvania

Returning to blogging after my summer hiatus, I turn my attention to three people revolving around the constellation of paranormal archaeology: Bill Caraher's Dream Archaeology, my great uncle Tanagras and my colleague at F&M anthropologist Misty Bastian.

If you remember, a couple of years ago Yannis Hamilakis wrote on the relationship between modern (objective) and premodern (less objective) archaeological relationships. He argued that Greeks had an indigenous relationship to archaeology before the emergence of a professional modern discipline. The erasure of this earlier mode the profession constitutes a form of colonialism. For the details, see Hamilakis, Y. 2008. Decolonising Greek archaeology: indigenous archaeologies, modernist archaeology, and the post-colonial critique. In Damaskos, D. and Plantzos, D. (eds), A Singular Antiquity. Athens: The Benaki Museum, pp. 273-84. (Download PDF here) Hamilakis discusses these ideas in his ground breaking book, The Nation and Its Ruins (Oxford, 2007)

Analyzing Late Antique, Byzantine and Early Modern case studies, Bill Caraher began an exploration of dream archaeology, an aspect of indigenous archaeology where dream visions direct archaeological investigation. See, Caraher's working draft here.

All these inspirations made me contemplate my great uncle Angelos Tanagras, one of the founders of Psychical Research in the early 20th century. I blogged about him (here) and about his relationship to archaeology (here). Thanks to those postings, I have come into contact with two prominent historians of Tanagras, Peter Mulacz and Nikolaos Koumartzis. Mulacz is the Vice President of the Austrian Society of Psychical Research. He has sent me the photo above showing the 1930 meeting of the Society of Psychical Research in Athens. Nikolaos Koumartzis has published a much-needed history, Psychical Research in Greece, Paranormal Greece: Psychical Research in Greece (Athens, 2009).

While attending F&M's conference on the curriculum, I got a quick chance to catch up with my colleague Misty Bastian in Anthropology. She quickly filled me in on her fascinating new research on paranormal Pennsylvania. You can read all about it in Haunted Hackman (The Diplomat, Aug. 26, 2010). Now, I look forward to future conversations, virtual, real and even paranormal. Bastian is best known for her work in Nigeria and infamous among students for her seminars on magic (ancient, modern, western and non-nonwestern).


Anonymous said...


On one of our hikes in Montana, a friend told us about how the National Park Service had recently hired psychic archaeologists to visit both the site of Custer's Last Stand and a settlement site in MT. It was so interesting to hear the story from a non-archaeologist.


Wow! Have you told Misty yet?

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States